Adalah: Suspend Shendar and indict police who killed protesters in October 2000

By DAN IZENBERG
October 16, 2006 01:36
3 minute read.

 
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The Israeli Arab human rights organization Adalah on Sunday demanded an investigation into the alleged "extreme failure" of the Police Investigations Department (PID) to genuinely probe the deaths of 12 Israeli Arabs and a Palestinian during the October 2000 riots and to suspend its leaders, including State Attorney Eran Shendar, until the investigation is over. The call was included in a 130-page report published by the PID in September 2005, when it announced it was closing the files on all 13 cases without prosecuting a single policeman on grounds of lack of sufficient evidence. At a press conference in Jerusalem, Adalah director-general Hassan Jabarin also demanded that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz immediately bring to trial all the policemen responsible for the killings. He added that the Or State Commission of Inquiry, which investigated the riots, had recommended the PID resume the criminal investigations of the killings that it had begun before the commission was established, and had even provided the names of suspects in several of the incidents. Adalah said it called the press conference after studying the evidence gathered by the PID during its investigation. Jabarin charged that the PID failed to investigate obvious leads, concealed information from the public and, in some cases, cooperated with the police suspects to shield them from indictment. In response to Adalah's report, Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen issued a statement saying the ministry "had full confidence in the professionalism, good faith and fairness of the PID and its team of lawyers and investigators. All attempts to delegitimize the department and its employees are rejected out of hand." As for the allegations, the Justice Ministry wrote that there was a difference between the conclusions of the Or Commission, which are in the administrative realm, and the decision to indict someone on criminal charges, "a process which obliges the investigator to specifically identify each suspect, gather the evidence against him and put him on trial such that his guilt will be proven beyond reasonable doubt." According to Jabarin, however, there were some obvious cases in which there was already sufficient evidence to indict specific suspects. The most obvious involved the former head of the Northern Police District, Alec Ron. Ron, according to Jabarin, had admitted to the Or Commission that he had brought snipers from the police special tasks force to back up his forces at Umm el-Fahm on October 2. But, continued Jabarin, snipers had not been used against a civilian population in Israel since 1948. Jabarin wrote that the Or Commission had determined that it was illegal to employ them. Yet Ron had admitted doing so without consulting the police inspector-general or the Minister of Internal Security. The PID should have indicted Ron without question, Jabarin charged. He added that the PID itself had violated the law and public confidence by failing to investigate the killings as soon as they happened. "Even though it was known that the killings and woundings in October 2000 were the direct result of shooting by the police, and despite the publications in the media in real time about the use of snipers against the protesters, the PID did not fulfill its duty according to the law in that it did not conduct a single investigation into any of the incidents," Jabarin charged. "This despite explicit requests by Adalah to then-Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein and then-PID head Eran Shendar on October 18, 2000 and November 5, 2000." Jabarin also said the team headed by Deputy State Attorney in Charge of Special Tasks Shai Nitzan, which had been appointed to review last year's PID decision to close the files, could not do the job in good faith because Nitzan's direct boss was Shendar, the man allegedly most responsible for failing to properly investigate the killings. Jabarin indicated that he was waiting for the release of Nitzan's findings in order to petition the High Court of Justice to suspend Shendar and other senior PID officials, and to re-open the investigations of the killings. Meanwhile, the head of the Committee of the Victims' Families, Hassan Assalah, father of Assil, who was killed by the police on October 2, 2000, warned that the Israeli Arab community would continue to "pursue the criminals who killed our martyrs. This is the obligation of the coming generations until they are punished. We will also pursue their masters and commanders until they, too, are punished, and their dark and evil days will be erased from history, no matter how difficult the task may be." Assalah described the government as a "junta which proves each day that it is the most fascist and racist in history. It exceeds the darkest regimes in history."

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